TUSTIN, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wheelpump Corporation, developer of automatic tire pressure maintenance technology for passenger cars and light trucks, today announced the availability of evaluation prototypes and design specifications for the Loewe™ on-wheel pump to automobile manufacturers and component OEMs who wish to offer improved safety, increased mileage and optimized tire performance to their customers. The patented on-wheel pump design can be integrated into typical passenger car wheels, and as the vehicle is driven under normal usage the pump maintains proper tire pressure. Unlike the tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that are federally mandated on all new light passenger vehicles in the United States, the Loewe on-wheel pump actually compensates for the under-inflation that a TPMS only attempts to warn drivers about. Loewe on-wheel pumps are low-cost and highly reliable, contain no batteries or other electronics that demand careful handling or on-going maintenance, and require no changes to tire construction or mounting.
“There have been numerous attempts to solve this obvious need for maintaining proper tire pressure,” said Richard Loewe, a retired chief scientist at Hughes Aircraft Company and inventor of the on-wheel pump. “I’ve spent twenty years researching the problem, reviewed over 100 applicable patents, and built several experimental models of different designs. Our current on-wheel pump weighs less than one ounce and takes up less than two thirds of a cubic inch of space. Future models are expected to be even smaller. The on-wheel pump built in to each wheel adds a small pulse of air into the tire camber, if necessary, with each wheel rotation. The effect is similar to how an alternator keeps the battery charged. A fully instrumented demonstration test rig has been running since last July, and the ability to produce up to 40 PSI has been observed by several automotive industry experts. We are now ready to work with manufacturers to integrate the on-wheel pumps into their vehicles.”
Maintaining proper tire inflation has always been an issue due primarily to “tire permeation” where air slowly seeps out through the rubber materials and tire beads. In the 1990’s, sudden tire failure due to under-inflation caused a number of widely publicized accidents. This ultimately led to the United States Federal Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000. This act required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop regulations for including tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) in new passenger cars and light trucks to warn drivers of “significant under-inflation” before the under-inflation or actual tire failure caused an accident.
In 2007, the United States Government Accounting Office issued a report (GAO-07-246R Underinflated Tires) that stated “underinflated tires impact a driver’s ability to control a vehicle against skidding, blowouts, and other tire failures” and cited a NHTSA study that linked 247 fatalities and 23,100 injuries to underinflated tires in a single year. The GAO report also quoted an International Tire and Rubber Association report which said that under-inflation was the “single most common” factor in tire failure. The specifications for a TPMS mandate that tire pressure be 25 percent below the automobile manufacturer’s recommended cold pressure (the “placard value”) before a warning is given to the driver. However, a number of consumer safety groups believe that this provides a false sense of security since a tire could be as much as 10 psi low for an extended period with no warning given, while the driver is still at risk of excessive tire wear and failure as well as decreased mileage and reduced handling and braking.
Vehicles fitted with wheels that include a Loewe™ on-wheel pump avoid tire under-inflation issues. The rotation of the wheel over a fraction of the distance that typical consumers drive on a monthly basis is sufficient for an on-wheel pump to offset any pressure loss due to tire permeation. The pumps also automatically adjust for pressure losses due to changes in altitude or air temperature. They can be used in parallel with the mandated “direct” TPMS designs with no interference.
Wheelpump Corporation expects to work in partnership with automobile manufacturers and their suppliers to adapt the on-wheel pump designs to specific vehicles. The company offers both engineering and manufacturing services as necessary to bring products to market quickly and inexpensively.
About Wheelpump Corporation
Wheelpump Corporation is a specialty engineering and manufacturing company based in Tustin, California. It provides design services, prototype fabrication and production component manufacturing of the Loewe™ on-wheel pump, which eliminates typical tire under-inflation. More information regarding Wheelpump Corporation can be found at www.wheelpumpcorp.com.
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